Hello?

By Joseph DeRepentigny

“Object 2563 in visual in two seconds,” Survey Specialist Diego said while concentrating on his system screen. A young man with dark complexion and wavy black hair he took deep pride in his Latin heritage.

“Rodger,” replied Mission Officer Larue in a bored tone. She was a red head with a few freckles. A forth generation American and career space pilot she seldom showed any excitement. This time was no exception.

“Analysis shows that the target is 90% granite and 10% trace elements.” Diego said with a sigh, “just another rock in space.”

Looking at the view screen confirmed the assessment. To make sure they turned on a spotlight that illuminated the asteroid in question. The light showed grey rock pitted and craggy as if some giant had chewed it up and spat it out like a wad of tobacco.

“You were expecting something else?” She asked.

“Gold, copper even iron would be a welcomed change.” Diego said spinning around in his seat.

“The life of a space cartographer is not exciting.” Larue replied.

“But it should be!”

“Why,” she asked.

“Because we’re out here like Magellan,” he said with a broad grin. “Seeing the unknown and brining back news of a new world and building a new empire.”

“No we’re more like Phillip the Navigator.” She countered, “Mapping a route for future explorers.”

“Ha, he was a Portuguese.”

“Your point is?”

“The Portuguese have only a small place in history.”

“Even a small place is better than no place.”

“True, but I prefer a big place like Ponce de Leon, Vasco Digamma, or Pizarro.”

“How about Columbus,” she asked.

“He was an Italian.”

Larue shook her head. “Scan for the next object.”

“Object 2564 plotted.” He replied. Diego looked at his screen and smiled. “This one is moving.”

“Plot its path.”

“Done,” Diego, said quickly. Then a frown crossed his face as a series of numbers changed on the screen. “Something is wrong.”

“What is it?”

“The object changed direction.”

“Did it hit something?”

“No, it moved when we moved.” Diego said watching his screen. “There it did it again!”

“Are we close enough for a visual?”

“In a few seconds we’ll have a spectral analysis.” He said quickly. Then looking up he said. “It is mostly limestone.”

“Limestone, all the way out here?” she replied with a frown. “Put it on the video screen and start recording.”

The image was a blur of white in a field of stars and black grey asteroids. As they got closer, the image sharpened. Shaped like bullet with black markings on the sides they both knew instantly this was an artificial object.

“It is an alien!” Diego cried.

“Send a hello signal!” Larue said quickly.

“How,” Diego asked.

Larue paused. That was a good question. This was a survey ship. The radio had three channels and one of them was for emergencies. No one had planned for them running into another ship let alone an alien.

“Open all three channels and report what we’ve seen.” She decided. “Maybe the aliens will pick it up and contact us. If not then HQ might have an idea”

Diego opened the three channels and transmitted what they were seeing. When he was done, they listened for anything on the radio. They got nothing but static. He looked over at Larue. “It will take an hour for us to get a reply from HQ.”

“I know, so what did your famous Spanish explorers do when encountering another ship at sea?”

“Wave a flag or fire a shot.” He replied absently. “What about your people?”

“No explorers in my family.” She said with a sigh. “We were your typical suburbanites. The closest thing to exploring for us was going to the beach on weekends in the summer.”

“My family never went anywhere.” Diego replied. “I was the first one in my family to even own a car.”

“I come from a long line of drivers.” Larue responded with a grin. “My grandpa was a truck driver. He used to take me on short trips and taught me to use a CB and to flash my headlights to warn people about the speed traps up ahead.”

“We’ll do that then.”

“What?”

“Flash our lights at them.” Diego said with a grin.

“It couldn’t hurt.”

Flipping a switch on the console Diego turned the forward spotlight on and off three times. The two of them sat holding their breaths waiting for a response. Then the alien ship flashed its lights turned and left as quickly as it came.

The two of them heaved a sigh of relief. Then Larue smiled. “I guess Larue and Diego are to be counted along with Columbus!”

“I told you Columbus was an Italian.”